A few months of social distancing and spending all your time at home can take a toll on you! Well after a few months indoors, my friends and I were getting the itch to get out and explore nature. With so much closed in the cities, we decided to pick a new national park to visit. Just 2 hours south of Oakland, Pinnacles National Park feels a world away.
We took a short trip through the Bay Area, past the Gilroy garlic farms, down into the Salinas Valley, and into the East entrance of the park. The East entrance brings you to the Welcome center and campgrounds. There you can grab a map and head out. There’s also a small shop with snacks and beverages if you need to grab extra water.
COVID Note – Even out on the trails, it’s important to practice social distancing. I was impressed by how respectful everybody was out there! Just about everybody had a mask with them and put it on when passing others.
Pinnacles offers a mountainous landscape, that draws hikers and mountain climbers to explore. There are a variety of trails for day hikers and longer hiking trips.
The park has a diverse landscape. In addition to the great mountains, hiking trails take visitors through grasslands and wooded areas. Other highlights of the park are the cave formations throughout the mountains.
Day Hiking – Bench Trail
My friends and I really enjoyed the Bench trail route. Despite the heat, it was really enjoyable weaving through the various landscapes – under the tree canopies and through the rocky hills.
There are numerous opportunities to stop, take a break, and take in the surroundings. Additionally, Bench Trail leads to an amazing peak, where you have views of the park!
What You’ll Need
Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll need to prepare for extremely hot temperatures. Keep in mind, during the summer months, it’s consistently in the 90’s and even gets into the 100’s!
- Bring lots of water and fresh fruits and veggies
- Protect yourself from the sun with layers, headgear, and sunblock
- The trails can be uneven, so I also recommend hiking boots if you’re planning on a full day of hiking
- Bring your mask!
We only scratched the surface of Pinnacles National Park and I look forward to coming back again to continue exploring!